When in 1962 young Dale Parker gets thrown out of the house by his father, he has no choice but to find his own path. After a brief attempt at city living, he makes his way to a seaside town where he begins to make a life. He meets Rey Duran, twenty years his elder and a member of a huge, historic area family… and gorgeous. They start to date and in no time Dale is part of Rey’s family, but not in the way Dale might hope.
This novel is a story of how two people can complete each other through love, through "becoming one", the purpose of the image of the named honeymoon cottage. Rey comes from a big and loving family that accepts his being gay. He has spent his adulthood in a creative profession and has “dozens and dozens of nephews and cousins” but he has no one special in his life. He feels directionless, adrift. Dale on the other hand knows precisely where he is going, or at least how he is going to get there, working hard, saving money, and planning to get his GED and go to college. Almost the moment he meets Rey he knows it’s for keeps. His loveless family is amply replaced by the Duran familia, but it is clear that Dale is self sufficient and sure of himself in spite of the cold childhood home in which he was raised. Rey is put off by Dale’s youth, assuming his eye will wander, that he will prove ungrounded and flighty, not seeing that in fact Dale is the solid, mature person in the relationship, that it is Rey himself he who will by his lack of commitment threaten the future they might have.
What I loved about this well written and thoughtful story is its depictions of everyday average people, not hyper-masculine heroes with dangerous professions, like spies and cops. Those are fun, but what we need are people like us to show us how they live, dream, and cope. With Dale and Rey we have people whose foibles we understand and can identify with. And the best news about that is that it means that maybe we can have what Rey and Dale have, that promise of love and belonging.
Pay attention to the small clues that foreshadow the developments in the story if you want to see the author’s sensitive writing skill in action.
As a bonus, the author describes a landscape he knows, having lived through it, during a time when gay people were just beginning to find acceptance at least within their own social and sometimes familial circle. But this is not a fantasy world. The threat is there restricting the public celebration of love that no straight couple would expect to have. This is a hopeful story, but not at all a silly one.
Perhaps one of the most charming elements for this reader was seeing two characters from another well-loved source, Lucas and Thomas from Brian Holliday’s stories on Wilde Oats. How often does one get to see the joyful promise of loving partners in their own future realized?